A Lifeline As Close As Your Mailbox – United States Postal Service Helping Seniors Out
Many homebound, disabled or senior citizens may not be aware that the USPS offers a couple of programs that can provide piece of mind that someone is checking on them once a day and will even bring your mail to your front door under certain circumstances.
The Carrier Alert Program
In July 1982, the United States Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers(NALC) launched Carrier Alert, a joint effort to partner with local social service agencies across the country to offer a measure of security for one of the most vulnerable segments of our society—homebound citizens. During its 25-year history, Carrier Alert has used letter carriers’ unique daily presence in America’s communities to keep a watchful eye on elderly, infirm and disabled citizens. The value of the program has been repeatedly demonstrated as alert letter carriers have helped thousands of these citizens receive assistance. In many cases, their actions have literally saved lives.
Delivering mail to the same residences day after day, letter carriers become familiar with customers’ habits and often notice changes in routine that could mean a patron is in distress. Accumulating mail is a common clue, but lights burning in midday, pet dogs crying, drawn draperies, or in some areas, no tracks in the snow—can all signal trouble within. When a volunteer carrier notes something unusual concerning a patron registered with Carrier Alert, he or she reports it to a postal supervisor or other designated individual who in turn contacts the sponsoring local agency. They check on the person and if something’s wrong, contact family, police or emergency services as appropriate. Because participation is voluntary and operation depends on local agencies, the Carrier Alert program is well established in some regions and little known in others. Where it is in use, it earns constant praise–just as letter carriers across the nation do every day, with or without a formal program. Check with your local post office to see if a Carrier Alert Program is offered in your neighborhood. If not, rest assured your letter carrier is vigilant of your presence and well-being.
Door Delivery of Mail for Physically Disabled or Elderly
In 1998, the US Congress passed the “Mail Delivery to Physically Handicapped Act.” It provides the service of mail being brought to your door as opposed to being deposited in your mailbox at the street. For door mail deliver to begin, approval of your application by your local Post Master is required . Contact the Post Office and they will inform you of the process. The application needs to include a certificate from a licensed physician stating that the resident is physically handicapped to the extent that anything other than door delivery would pose a medical or physical hardship. If your door delivery is authorized, you’ll need to provide either an approved house-mounted box that provides adequate protection and security for the mail or a door slot. A mailbox with a lock must have a slot that is large enough to accommodate your daily mail volume. The Postal Service neither opens a locked box nor accepts a key for this purpose.
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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.